This week we’re all about everything New England . Where else should we be with Fall in full glory? What could be more fitting than a delicious bowl of creamy, chunky, peppery New England Clam Chowder.
As part of my Roam to Table features, I take a dish I have enjoyed while traveling and try to recreate for you.
I tried a creamy chowder last year at The Coast Guard house in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Their chowder was full of clams, had a silky, creamy base and loads of flavor. I wanted to see if I could develop a recipe that is simple for the home cook.
In researching clam chowder, there are about a million opinions of what should go into the pot: half & half vs. evaporated milk, bacon or pork fat, white or or black pepper, fresh, frozen or canned clams. Trust me- there are a lot of options. I’m not even going to touch Manhattan Clam Chowder vs. Rhode Island Clam Chowder. I tried to keep it simple and make my chowder with everything from the local grocery store. I add garlic for a little zing. If you have the luxury of fresh clams- definitely throw them in.
Clams are small and delicate and need little time in the pot before serving. Don’t be intimated to make this stick to your ribs soup for your family and friends. It requires little more than chopping a few veggies and stirring. This recipe is fairly forgiving for even the most novice of chefs. Serve with cheddar biscuits or traditional oyster crackers and cold beer. Invite the gang over and turn on the game. Enjoy-and let me know how you like my Clam Chowdah. Go Pats!
New England Clam Chowder- serves 4
3 strips of thick cut bacon
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, cut into cubes
2 celery ribs with leaves, chopped fine
6 springs thyme, reserve 4 for garnish
1 garlic clove, minced fine
1 bay leaf
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup flour
2 bottles of clam juice
1 /2 lb or 2 cans of clam meat, save half the juice or about 1/2 cup
2 cups full fat half & half
salt and white pepper
- In a heavy 4 to 6 quart pot, over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon from pot and set aside to drain. Crumble bacon once cooled. Leave bacon fat in pot for sautéing.
- Add butter, onion, garlic, 2 sprigs of thyme and bay leaf to the pot. Cook while stirring often to keep vegetables from sticking. In 6-8 minutes onions should be translucent.
- In another pot, while veggies are cooking add potatoes to boiling, salted water and cook until tender- about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside keeping the potatoes warm.
- Gradually sprinkle flour into pot with vegetables until a thick roux forms. Cook while stirring for five minutes until roux is cooked through.
- Increase the heat to medium high and slowly pour in the clam juice.
- Add the potatoes.
- Add in the clams and their juice but only add 1/4 juice at a time so as not to thin out the chowder too much.
- Pour in the half & half and season salt and pepper, stirring as chowder thickens- this should take about 5 minutes. Continue stirring until chowder is thick and creamy. Finally, add the bacon back in.
- Discard the bay leaf before serving. Garnish with reserved thyme.